Cameron International Corp.’s top executive was scheduled to visit the company’s Cheektowaga plant Monday and Tuesday, at a time when the division the plant belongs to could be headed for an ownership change.
Jack B. Moore, Houston-based Cameron’s chairman, president and chief executive officer, was expected to meet with employees, but it was not known what message he was bringing, according to a source familiar with his visit who asked not to be identified.
In January, Cameron said it was exploring “strategic alternatives” for its centrifugal compression division, which includes the plant on Broadway and its roughly 600 jobs.
Jeffrey Altamari, vice president of investor relations for Cameron in Houston, would not confirm Moore’s visit to Cheektowaga. Altamari also said the company had nothing new to say about the status of the centrifugal compression division since the January announcement.
But the source said employees are expecting a sale at some point, with General Electric, Siemens and Rolls-Royce thought to be among the suitors. At the time of the January announcement, Cameron also disclosed it was selling its reciprocating compression division to GE, for $550 million.
Cameron supplies flow equipment products, systems and services to oil, gas and process industries around the world. Last year, the company reported net income of $724 million on record-high sales of $9.8 billion.
In his annual letter to shareholders, Moore said both “reciprocating and centrifugal compression have contributed greatly to Cameron’s success,” but the company is “sharpening its focus on the business segments that target the oil and gas equipment markets” and had decided to “exit” the compression business.
Cameron’s centrifugal compression division, which includes the Cheektowaga site, generated $398 million in sales last year. By comparison, the reciprocating compression division generated $302 million in sales before Cameron agreed this year to sell it to GE for $550 million.
In March, the Cheektowaga plant laid off 38 hourly workers, which sources attributed to a slowdown in production activity. At the time, the plant had about 310 hourly workers and 300 salaried workers.
The Cheektowaga site, located on Broadway, was once the home of Joy Manufacturing. In 1987, Cooper Industries bought Joy and formed the Cooper turbocompressor division. The parent company changed its name to Cameron from Cooper Cameron in 2006. The Cheektowaga plant designs and makes air and gas compressors for applications including industrial plants.